Drama of Jesus’ Disciples to Britain #1
THE DRAMA OF THE LOST DISCIPLES #1 by George f. Jowett (1961) THE NOBILIS DECURIO JOSEPH of Arimathea was a man of refinement, well educated, and one who possessed many talents. He had extraordinary political and business ability and was reputed to be one of the wealthiest men in the world of that time. He was the Carnegie of his day, a metal magnate controlling the tin and lead industry which then was akin in importance to that of steel today. Tin was the chief metal for the making of alloys and in great demand by the warring Romans. Many authorities claim that Joseph's world control of tin and lead was due to his vast holdings in the famous, ancient tin mines of Britain. This interest he had acquired and developed many years before Jesus was baptized by His cousin, John the Baptist, and before He began His brief but glorious mission. The world's major portion of tin was mined in Cornwall, smelted into ingots and exported throughout the then known civilized world, chiefly in the ships of Joseph. He is reputed to have owned one of the largest private merchant shipping fleets afloat which traversed the world's sea lanes in the transportation of this precious metal. The existence of the tin trade between Cornwall and Phoenicia is frequently referred to by classical writers, and is described at considerable length by Diodorus Siculus as well as Julius Caesar. In the Latin Vulgate of the Gospel of St. Mark 15:43, and St. Luke 23:50, we find both referring to Joseph of Arimathea as 'Decurio'. This was the common term employed by the Romans to designate an official in charge of metal mines. In St. Jerome's translation, Joseph's official title is given as 'Nobilis Decurio'. This would indicate that he held a prominent position in the Roman administration as a minister of mines. For a Jew to hold such high rank in the Roman State is rather surprising, and goes far to prove the remarkable characteristics of Joseph. We know he was an influential member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious body that ruled Roman Jewry, and a legislative member of a provincial Roman senate. His financial and social standing can well be estimated when we consider he owned a palatial home in the holy city and a fine country residence just outside Jerusalem. Several miles north of the ancient city he possessed another spacious estate at Arimathea, which is known today as Ramalleh. It was located on the populous caravan route between Nazareth and Jerusalem. Everything known of him points to him as affluent and as a person of importance and influence within both the Jewish and Roman hierarchies. According to the Talmud, Joseph was the younger brother of the father of the Virgin Mary. He was her uncle, and therefore a great uncle to Jesus. Chiefly from the secular reports we learn that Joseph was a married man and his son, Josephes, left a mark of distinction in British history. During the lifetime of Jesus there constantly appears reference to his association with a relative at Jerusalem. Profane history is more positive on the matter, identifying the connection with Joseph. As we study the old records we find there is a valid reason for the close association of Jesus and his family with Joseph. It is quite obvious that the husband of Mary died while Jesus was young. Under Jewish law such a circumstance automatically appointed the next male kin of the husband, in this case Joseph, legal guardian of the family. This fact explains many things. History and tradition report Jesus, as a boy, frequently in the company of His uncle, particularly at the time of the religious feasts, and declares that Jesus made voyages to Britain with Joseph in his ships. Cornish traditions abound with this testimony and numerous ancient landmarks bear Hebrew names recording these visits. Even during the short period of the ministry of Jesus there is definitely shown to exist a close affinity between them, far greater than one would expect from an ordinary guardianship. It was fatherly, loyal, with a mutual affection death could not sever. We know that Joseph never forsook his nephew. He stood by Him as a bold, fearless defender at the notorious trial, and defied the Sanhedrin by going to Pilate and boldly claiming the body when all others feared to do so. His arms were the first to cradle the broken corpse when taken from the cross and place it in the tomb. After death he continued to protect the mutilated body of Jesus from the conspiring minds of the Sadducees. He risked his all, wealth, power and position in those crucial years fulfilling his obligation as guardian of Jesus and of the family of Mary. He loved Jesus dearly. The disciples spoke of Joseph with an affectionate regard. They wrote he was a 'just man', a 'good man', 'honourable', and 'a disciple of Jesus'. The latter clearly indicates that all through their association Joseph must have encouraged THE NOBILIS DECURIO Jesus in His great work and that he was aware of the mystery of His birth and probaby His destiny. All evidence proves that Joseph believed in the validity of all Jesus taught and ultimately suffered for. It is commonly taught that Jesus was poor and of obscure relatives. His relationship with the affluent Joseph of Arimathea proves otherwise. In His own right He was a property owner but long before He took up His mission He forsook all material wealth. It should be remembered that Jesus was a true lineal descendant of the Shepherd King, David, and of Seth, son of Adam, who was the son of God. WHO MOVED THE STONE AT THE TOMB? DENIED the power of the vote Caiaphas lost no time in contacting Pilate, fully prepared to play his ace with the pressure of blackmail if Pilate hesitated to institute the charge of treason against Jesus. Under Roman law treason was a capital offence which, if proven, was punishable by death. Only the Roman Procurator could try such a case and only he could legally impose the death penalty. This Caiaphas demanded and silence was his price. The High Priest possessed positive knowledge that Pontius Pilate had been an active party to a secret, futile plot to assassinate Tiberius Caesar. Armed with this knowledge Caiaphas imposed his will on the Procurator, who trembled with fear of exposure, disgrace, and the threat to his life. It is with certainty we can assume that Joseph pleaded with Pilate not to interfere in a new trial of Jesus. Joseph was unaware of the deadly secret Caiaphas held over the Spanish-born Procurator. Neither his pleadings nor his influence could prevail. Nor could the earnest supplication of Pilate's wife avail, who, disturbed by the potency of a dream the night before, begged of him to have nothing to do with the trial of 'that just man'. Pilate deferred to his wife. He owed his exalted position to the social eminence his marriage had brought. His wife was Claudia Procula, the illegitimate daughter of Claudia, the third wife of Tiberius Caesar, and grand-daughter of Augustus Caesar. Pilate knew that the Emperor, against whom he had plotted, was very fond of his step-daughter and, being an astute politician, Pontius Pilate deferred to her every whim. For him to deny Claudia's urgent request is but to prove how serious Pilate considered the hold Caiaphas had on him. At heart Pilate was not in sympathy with the demands of the Sadducees. He found no foundation to their charges. Four times Jesus was pronounced innocent but Pilate, in his evasive gesture calling for a bowl of water to signify he washed his hands of the whole matter, acceded to the murderous demands of the Sanhedrin. Nevertheless, he permitted the Roman guard to carry out the tragic act historically known as 'The Scandal of the Cross'. The dream that tortured Pilate's wife on the previous night foretold disaster to him if he judged Jesus. The dream came true. Later Pontius Pilate committed suicide. From the beginning to the end the arrest and dual trial was a vicious frame-up, a betrayal, a travesty of justice. From that dark hour in the garden to the crucifixion, the plot was hurried to its conclusion. It had to be. The murmurings of the people had been growing louder, as evidenced at the final trial. Following the fatal verdict the whole city seethed with fear and unrest. Caiaphas and his fanatical collaborators had triumphed but the Romans held the lash and would not hesitate to use it unmercifully on the slightest provocation or interference. So greatly did terror prevail throughout Jerusalem that all known to have been associated with Jesus in even the slightest way fled into hiding. Nine of the twelve disciples had fled the city directly after the arrest in the garden, leaving only three standing by. Judas was no longer numbered among the faithful. Only Peter, John and Nicodemus remained. Even though Peter had denied his Master he, with the beloved disciple John, had followed Jesus into the crowded court room of the Sanhedrin. There for the third time, Peter denied association with his Lord. After the fatal circumstances had arisen Peter, overwhelmed with self-torment and ashamed of his denials, despondently went into seclusion within the city. He did not witness the crucifixion. Of those present, the Scriptures refer by name only to John and Mary, the mother of Jesus, witnessing the tragedy at the foot of the cross, and the three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Salome who watched from a respectful distance. Wonderment is often evinced at the omission of the Bethany sisters, Martha and Mary, whom Jesus loved. The impression gathered is that they were not present. This does not seem conceivable. The name of Joseph is not mentioned but it seems safe to say they were all present. The record says, 'all the women who followed Him,' and 'others were mingled among the crowd'. The speed with which Joseph called on Pilate after the demise indicates that he was present. Pilate appears to be surprised at hearing the swift news, asking those near him if it were true Jesus was dead. ("But all those who were the acquaintance of Christ, stood at a distance, as did the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee, observing all these things:" - Nicodemus 8:11). It is doubtful if the beloved John and the Blessed Mother witnessed the expiration on the cross. We are told that after Jesus committed His mother to the care of John, the disciple led her away to spare her the last dark hours of suffering. Probably the average Christian of today fails to realize the extent of the physical and mental torture borne by the sensitive Jesus through this agonizing period. From the hour of the Last Supper to the time of His death, He had not touched food or drink. He had been 'third degreed' from the moment He stood in the torch-lit Sanhedrin, until after His trial before Pilate. Then, following the heckling, the crowning of thorns, and the reviling by His enemies who had placed the mocking sign on Him - 'King of the Jews'. Following His condemnation to death He had been brutally flogged by His Roman executioners, His back slashed to ribbons. Even today it is conceded that the Roman flogging was the most cruel ever to be inflicted on a human being. This we can well believe as we scan the Roman records which attest to the fact that only one out of ten ever survived the ghastly scourging. His suffering was intensified when the reviling Roman soldier pressed the bitter sponge of hyssop to His parched lips when He called for water as He hung on the cross. All this He endured apart from the terrible torment He suffered as He slowly expired on the cross. Weighing all this as we must, we are not left in doubt that Jesus was as physically superb as He was mentally and spiritually. According to both Jewish and Roman law, unless the body of an executed criminal be immediately claimed by the next of kin the body of the victim was cast into a common pit with others where all physical record of them was completely obliterated. Why did not Mary, the mother of Jesus, as the immediate next of kin, claim the body of her beloved Son? Perhaps John, fearing for the safety of Mary, restrained her, leaving it to Joseph, the family guardian, to make the request. We do know that Joseph was the one who personally went to Pilate and obtained the Procurator's official sanction to claim the body, remove it from the cross, and prepare it for burial in his private sepulchre which was within the garden of his estate. You will likely agree that this was in order. But consider the circumstances. A reign of terror continued to prevail within the city of Jerusalem. No follower of Christ was safe from the evil machinations of the Sanhedrin, who were then enjoying a Roman holiday in the persecution of the followers of 'The Way'. As already stated, all but two of the disciples had fled the city and gone into safe seclusion in fear of their lives. However, as we shall see, there was yet another, Nicodemus, who had not fled the city. But Joseph, the Roman senator, and the legislative member of the Sanhedrin, also a disciple, was the only close associate of Christ who dared to walk openly on the street without fear of molestation. Was he too powerful and prominent for either side to harm? Yet Joseph knew he was dealing with dynamite, and from the circumstances that followed it appears that Joseph did fear interference, not personally, but in his intentions. Actually, why did he go to Pontius Pilate ? Why did he not claim the body in the ordinary way, according to custom? Certainly, it was not a common occurrence to seek permission from the highest authority in the land in order to obtain the body of an executed criminal. Why had he not sought permission from the Sanhedrin? They were inflexible in their rule that a body must be claimed and buried before sunset. Actually, under normal circumstances there was no need to go further than the Sanhedrin. Jesus was regarded as a Jew. Joseph was a Jew and a high ranking member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. There was only one reason why Joseph preferred to make the claim for the body to Pilate. He knew that the fanatical Sadducean Priesthood sought the total extinction of Jesus, even in death. Annas and Caiaphas had succeeded in their diabolical, murderous scheme by having Jesus crucified as a common criminal. Does it not stand to reason that they would seek to carry out the ignominy to its fullest extent? Would they not have preferred that the body of Jesus be disposed of in the common criminal pit so that His extinction would be total and all memory steeped in shame? Certainly, it would have been Sanhedrin. To have Jesus decently interred within a respectably known sepulchre was but to erect a martyr's tomb for the multitude to flock to in an ageless pilgrimage. That would have doomed the Sanhedrin more surely than anything else. Therefore, reason would indicate that the High Priesthood were bent on interfering with the claim of the kin of the crucified Christ. With Mary, the Sanhedrin could interfere, but not with Joseph. He did not fear them and was to the best interest of the determined to thwart them in their designs. The Scripture says he went 'boldly' before Pilate and successfully asserted the kin rights of his niece. (I also show in this section under my "The New Testament Bible Story" that there was much going on during Jesus' hanging on the cross and His death and what took place. The Jewish authorities and Sanhedrin were in total shock at the darkness and the tearing of the Temple curtain dividing the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. There would have been complete confusion as well as fear, and the Jewish authorities could have cared less about the body of Jesus on that cross; they were too busy in their confusion and fear. I also show it was not till evening (the earliest being 6 pm) that Joseph came to Pilate. The body of Jesus was not taken off the cross and put in the tomb until the first few hours of the first holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the 15th of the first month. Hence Jesus was raised three days and three nights later, the first hours of what we today call Saturday evening - in God's day reckoning the first day of the week. This fulfilled the wave-sheaf cutting of the Sadducees during the first few hours AFTER the weekly Sabbath, or Saturday evening, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, to be presented in the Temple Sunday morning. This is all fully explained as I went through this section of the Gospels in my "New Testament Bible Story" - on this website - Keith Hunt) Between Caiaphas and Pilate there still existed an armed truce, but the latter played a skilful game. He played both sides to his own advantage. Pilate had already satisfied the Sanhedrin. No matter how they opposed him thereafter, at the moment they could not deny him the right of fulfilling this particular part of the law to which both the Jew and the Roman subscribed in the disposal of the body. Pilate needed Joseph's friendship and there was no easier way of securing it than by recognizing Joseph's claim to the murdered body of his favourite nephew. By this act of interference, Joseph became a doubly marked man by the High Priesthood of Jewry. Returning from his mission with Pilate, Joseph's acts are again shown to be hurried as though fearing interception. He returned to the scene of the tragedy followed by Nicodemus, who carried one hundred pounds of mixed spices with which to prepare the body, prior to burial. Premature darkness had set in following the phenomenal storm that broke loose upon the land as Jesus expired on the cross, rending in twain the curtain in the temple and scattering the spectators abroad. Only two remained, Mary Magdalene, and the wife of Cleophas, sister of the Blessed Mary. They watched as Joseph, with the help of Nicodemus, lowered the body from the cross, laid it on the ground and wrapped the mortal remains of Jesus in the burial linen which Joseph had personally provided. It was dark and time appeared precious. Again we are impressed with the evidence of hurriedness. Without any further preparation they carried the body to the sepulchre in the garden of Joseph and laid it within the tomb, while the two women who had followed, watched nearby. Joseph and Nicodemus had too little time properly to anoint the body and dress it according to the custom in the linen shroud. (This is not correct at all from the Gospels; they did take the time to correctly, in the Jewish manner, use the 100 pounds of aloe and wrap the body of Jesus. All fully exolained in this Gospel section in my "New Testament Bible Story" - Keith Hunt) Yet the surprising thing is that they sealed the entrance to the tomb with a 'great' stone. Why? Did Joseph have other intentions? Common sense alone tells us that Joseph would not have allowed the body of his beloved nephew to remain in the ghastly state it was when lowered from the cross, bloody, sweaty, grimy and torn. Then what happened in between the few dark hours from the time the sealing stone was rolled to close the entrance to the tomb, and early dawn on the third day, when the second great drama took place - the disappearance of the body of Jesus from the sepulchre? We Christians accept without any reservations the Biblical version of the disappearance, but it should be remembered that in those days there was no Biblical version to go by, and Jesus was but barely known outside His native land. Not then was He the accepted Messiah; therefore, as we keep this in mind, we can better understand the impact, pro and con, this startling incident created among the populace, friend and foe. The discovery was made on the sabbath dawn (the writer was obviously person who took Sunday as the Sabbath, which it never was nor it - Keith Hunt) when Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome appeared on the scene at the break of day, bringing with them spices with which to clean and anoint the body of Christ. Their intentions are evident. They knew the body had been hastily interred without the proper burial preparation. The two Marys had been witness to this. They had watched Joseph and Nicodemus take the body from the cross and hurriedly wrap it in the linens at the foot of the cross. They had followed the two men into the garden of Joseph, standing nearby, as the body was placed on the ledge within the tomb, and witnessed the sealing of the entrance to the tomb with the 'great' stone. (The Mary's were coming that Sunday morning had nothing to do with "correcting" something done in a hurry three days before - the writer is reading his own ideas into the text - Keith Hunt) They were not likely to anoint the body twice within a few hours. On approaching the tomb, the scriptural record tells us that the first experience of the three women was one of shock. They saw that the great stone was completely removed from the entrance. This shock was followed by another as the drama unfolded. To their astonishment they saw a young man dressed in white, seated in an unconcerned manner on the very ledge within the tomb on which the body of Christ had been laid. From a study of the Marcan Manuscript, which relates the story with vivid realism, all evidence tends to prove that this particular young man was a complete stranger to the women and his attitude towards them was calm and unperturbed. He did not rush out to meet them excitedly. Before they had time to speak he told them Jesus was not there. The body was gone. They must go to Galilee, where they would meet Him. He told the stunned women the facts in the simple manner of one relating an incident he believed they should have known. But they did not know. Neither did they know the stranger within the tomb. All they were conscious of was that the body of their Lord was gone. Without questioning the stranger, the frightened women hastened back to the city, with Mary Magdalene, the youngest and most active of the three women, hurrying in advance to inform Peter and John of the startling news. (This is far from what really happened that Sunday morning. See my "New Testament Bible Story" for the rest of the story as the late Paul Harvey would have said - Keith Hunt) Evidently the two disciples were just as ignorant and bewildered over the disappearance of the body, if not doubtful. We find them hastening to the tomb and, on arriving, investigating the interior. On entering the sepulchre John stooped to pick up the discarded linen that lay collapsed, but intact, supported only by the spices. But where was the young stranger in white? He was not there for the two disciples to interrogate. Who was he? What was he doing there? Where had he gone? What did he know? Why was he never found? History would give a great deal to know the answers to these puzzling questions. The records are silent. (The truth is in the Gospels - angels were present when the women arrived - just that simple - Keith Hunt) Following the entombment the Sadducees, suspicious of the disciples, determined to prevent any possible tampering with the body. They requested Pilate to post a guard over the tomb, reminding him that Jesus had claimed that on the third day He would rise from the dead. They did not believe this and instead, considered it a ruse of the disciples to steal the body. Pilate flatly refused. He had already washed his hands of the matter and told them to arrange their own guard, which they did. In this case where was the guard? The tomb was unguarded when the three women had arnved. Why had the guard left so early, and where was the change of guards? Surely, the Sanhedrin, who had assumed full responsibility for posting the guard, would have taken every possible precaution. It was in their best interest to do so. To do otherwise was to invite the roused anger of the populace and of Pilate. They dare not have placed themselves in such an uncompromising position. We can well believe that the Sadducees had nothing to do with the disappearance of the body. If they had caused the body to be removed they would never have unwrapped it, leaving the linen there. Neither would they have left the entrance to the tomb open. In their position there was no need for haste. The guard was theirs Certainly, they would have concealed their crime by replacing the stone at the entrance, giving orders to the guard forbidding anyone entry. Again, everything points to haste. (No, the writer is in haste, to make it sound like all was in haste at the beginning of the three days and three night Jesus was to be in the tomb and then reusrrected - Keith Hunt) Much has been said, pro and con, in reference to the story of the guards, with the general assumption being that it was not true, but a whitewashed alibi of the Sanhedrin. Common opinion is that, even if the guard had fallen asleep at their post, a stone so large and heavy that sealed the tomb could never have been moved away without awakening them. If they had fallen asleep at their post of duty they would have been punished by death, as was the military custom of that time. In this, general opinion errs. It is generally assumed that the guard had to be Roman. If it were true the Roman penalty for dereliction of duty would undoubtedly have been imposed. But the guard belonged to the priestly Sanhedrin, whose discipline did not include the death penalty. The story given by the priests's guards is most probable. They admitted they had fallen asleep and, on awakening, were surprised to see that the huge stone had been rolled away. On further investigation they saw that the tomb was empty and straight away hurried to the Sanhedrin with the news. Caiaphas bribed them, giving them money so say that the disciples had stolen the body and to leave it to him to convince Pilate that such was the case. Nevertheless, they were deeply concerned over the disappearance and the Jewish record informs us that Caiaphas ordered Joseph to appear before the Sanhedrin for questioning. Another stormy scene occurred before the Assembly. Caiaphas openly accused Joseph of being the prime instigator of the plot and demanded to know where the body reposed. To all their questioning Joseph maintained a stony silence. He refused to talk, defiant in the knowledge that he was beyond their power to prosecute. Why did they not interrogate Mary, the mother of Jesus, or Peter, John, or Nicodemus, whom the Sanhedrin knew were the only associates of Christ present in the city at that time? Why were the other women not questioned? Perhaps the Sanhedrin considered such simple people as they incapable of carrying out such a delicate operation. Perhaps the genuine agitation of the disciples, and of the women concerning the mystery, was enough to satisfy the priesthood that they had no knowledge of what had happened. The difference between the members of the Sanhedrin and the disciples was - the Jewish priests insisted that the body of Jesus was stolen and secretly buried by Joseph or the disciples. The latter believed Christ had risen according to His word, on the third day, to be the first-fruits of all who slept. Therefore, it matters not who moved the stone at the tomb. (Common sense tells us it was divine power that moved the stone, and Matthew tells us it was an angel - not for Jesus to exit but for the disciples that Sunday morning to see Jesus was no longer in the tomb but was reusrrected just as Jesus Himself had said - Keith Hunt) Sorrow turned into triumph and an unquenchable zeal to preach the Gospel to all the world. Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of Jesus, was no longer guardian over His corporeal existence but over a greater treasure - Christ's sacred mission on earth. Henceforth he was to be the guardian of all the beloved against the arch-enemy, and ultimately their leader. He began to dedicate himself to his amazing destiny, which later was to make it possible for Peter and Paul to accomplish their great work in the service of the Lord. Joseph himself was to plant the roots of Christianity in fertile soil where it would flourish and never perish from off the earth. THE SAULIAN GESTAPO AND THE EXODUS A.D. 36 FOLLOWING the disappearance of the body and the Ascension of Christ, an evil, brooding passion for vengeance seized upon the ruling priesthood of the Sanhedrin. In secret conclave they plotted and planned a campaign of unremitting persecution against the followers of 'The Way'. Maliciously, they determined to exterminate all who failed to escape their bloody hands. There is no greater hatred than in a divided house, or brother against brother. In the main, the victims of the Sanhedrin were of their own race. The hatred they bore for the followers of 'The Way' was far greater than the implacable hatred that had divided the kingdom of Israel before the captivity. At that time, the Ten Tribes under Ephraim had drawn north into Samaria, while the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with a few Levites, remained at Jerusalem. A wall of bitterness existed between them that was never removed. After each regained their freedom, the Ephraimites commenced their long march beyond the Euphrates, disappearing from scriptural history, to become known by other names. Now, it was more than a bitterness. It was a blind, cruel, unreasonable, black hatred. The 'Gestapo' the Sanhedrin formed was specially organized under the appointed leadership of the vengeful Saul. He wasted no time. He struck quickly and viciously. Followers of 'The Way' found in Jerusalem, be they Greek, Roman or Jew, were openly, or in secret alike struck down. No mercy was shown. The records of that time state the prisons were overcrowded with their victims. The first notable victim Saul seized upon was the man whom he considered to be his inveterate foe, Stephen, the courageous leader of the Liberal Party who led the brilliant defence of Jesus on that fateful night in the court of the Sanhedrin. Along with Peter, John and others, Stephen had taken up the sceptre, defying the Sadducees by victoriously preaching the Word throughout the holy city. Thousands were daily converted and later, according to St. Luke, reached the spectacular number of three to five thousand daily. This testimony dissipates the idea that the Jews were unresponsive to the magic appeal of 'The Way'. The Jews were the first converts, a fact which further infuriated the corrupt Sadducean Priesthood. Fate caught up quickly with Stephen. The Jewish minions of the Sanhedrin stoned him to death in the manner peculiar to the Jews, as Saul looked on. He perished by the gate that still bears his name. St. Stephen was the first martyr for Christ, A.D. 33. (Wrong year - it was AD 30 - Jesus died in 30 AD as a study on this website proved in-depth, and as many other "scholars" have also said it was 30 AD. - Keith Hunt) So fierce was Saul's vindictive purge that he wrought havoc within the Church at Jerusalem. The boundaries of Judea could not confine him. Illegally, he trespassed far within Roman territory where he hounded the devotees without censure or interference from Roman administration. No doubt the Romans felt Saul was doing them a service, and a good job in ridding them of what they considered an undesirable religious pestilence. Throughout this reign of terror Joseph remained the stalwart, fearless protector of the disciples and of the women. On every possible occasion he stood between them and their enemies, a veritable tower of strength. Saul's fury knew no bounds. Strive and scheme as they may, Joseph's position as an influential Roman official defied the Saulian Gestapo from molesting his person, or those whom he defended. Nevertheless, it became a losing battle. Within four years after the death of Christ, A.D. 36, (33/34 is more correct - Keith Hunt) many of the devotees were scattered out of Jerusalem and Judea. There is little doubt that the ships of Joseph, co-ordinating with the Christian underworld, carried numerous of the faithful in safety to other lands. He spared neither his help nor his wealth in aiding all whom he could. Calloused as the Romans were with their own specific brand of brutality, even they were shocked by the ferocious atrocities of the Sanhedrin Gestapo. Out of this evil sprung the cause of their own ultimate doom. Later the Romans turned into a two-edged sword, becoming the rabid persecutors and executioners of both Jew and Christian. Saul was to meet a cruel death at their hands. For the Judean Jews the culminating catastrophe occurred in the year A.D. 70, when Titus, son of the Roman Emperor, Vespasian, massacred them at Jerusalem and put the ancient city to torch, levelling it to ashes, as Jesus had foretold. (Well... not quite, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem today was part of the outer wall of the Temple, so levelling to ashes has become an incorrect way to describe Titus' destruction of the Jews and Jerusalem in 70 AD. - Keith Hunt) Those who escaped were scattered to the four corners of the world, despised and hated, forced to live in ghettoes, and never to return to Judea. The Christian persecution was to continue for centuries in an increasing, diabolic form. Tiberius proclaimed an edict, making it a capital offence to be a Christian. Claudius and other Roman Emperors repeated the edict. The Romans, noting with alarm the rise of Christianity, began to consider Christians a menace to their empiric safety; therefore a class of people to be exterminated. History proves with a mass of bloodstained evidence, how they strove their level best to crush the evangelistic movement. It was like striving to push back the waves of the sea with the palms of their hands. It was not to be. As prophecy proclaimed, and history has fulfilled, the cross was to triumph over the sword. According to Acts 8:1-4, the Church of Jerusalem was scattered abroad. Even the Apostles were forced later to flee. This was the year of the epochal exile when the curtain descended darkly upon the lives and doings of so many of that illustrious band. Modem Christians are chiefly familiar with the New Testament record of the favoured few - Peter, Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, with passing reference to but a few others. What became of the rest of the original twelve Apostles, the seventy whom Christ first elected, then what of the later one hundred and twenty? They are the lost disciples on whom the scriptural record is as silent as the grave, particularly the two most outstanding characters, Joseph of Arimathea, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. The sacred pages close upon them in that fateful year leaving not a trace or a shadow of their mysterious passage into permanent exile. Ponder the facts. Christ's mission lasted but three years. Four years later the Elect had fled into exile. The great crusade was ended in but six years. True, some disciples laboured later there in Judea, but the effects were transitory. Roman rule tightened down, with a mailed fist on both Jew and Christian. Within thirty-five years the holy city was to be a rubble of ruins and thereafter largely occupied by the heathen and unbelievers. Christianity had its birth in Christ in the Holy Land, but not its growth that flourished to convert the world. This sprang to its full glory in another land. How could this happen? You may search the Scriptures in vain for record of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ever being near this distant country. The journeys of Peter and Paul as described in the Bible do not seem to give any clue. Then who performed this monumental Christian evangelistic work? Jesus Himself provides the answer as He denounces the Sadducean Jews, telling them that the glory shall be taken away from them and given to another. Again, when He says He came not to the Jews, but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. He knew He would not convert the Sanhedrin and its following, so it had to be others - the lost sheep. Who were they? The answer lies in His commission to Paul, the converted Saul, whom he commands to go to the Gentiles. To what Gentiles did Paul go apart from the Romans? Or did Paul commission others of the illustrious band as missionaries? The answer has to be somewhere. The Romans did not Christianize the world. They were the greatest enemies of the Christian Gospel for over three hundred years after the death of Christ. Who crushed this Roman opposition that made Rome Christian? Many are the intriguing questions that can be asked, all of which would seem to deepen the mystery that revolves around those who can be truly called the "Lost Disciples." We find the answers by studying ancient writings, the old martyrologies and menologies, the age-old parchments that have reposed in great libraries for many centuries, filed away, and for almost as many centuries, completely forgotten. These, and the works of eminent scholars who have explored the great scrolls, and deciphered the contents, reveal the astonishing facts. That is the object of this work, which at best can only quote briefly from the mass of data available. Where scriptural history ends secular history begins and in using the word 'history', we find greater faith and strength in understanding the original meaning of the word. As one great writer stated, 'There are Sermons in Stones'. Equally so, there is revelation in words. The Bible was God's Book of history, the Word of God. In the Old Testament, history is given to us in prophecy, and in the New Testament demonstrated in fulfilment. Therefore, viewed in this light, the true explanation of the word 'history,' as we employ the word is: 'Prophecy is history [His-Story] foretold, and history is prophecy fulfilled.' Fulfilment of His story began in the advent of Christ and will continue until the whole world accepts Him. Even we Christians have yet much to learn, but Jesus said it would become known unto us all as we are ready to receive. All those who are inclined to consider the Gospel of Christ a mystical, intangible or incredible story founded on myth and superstition with no substance to His existence, will find solid evidence in tracing the footsteps of the Lost Disciples from the exodus of A.D. 36, when they passed out of Biblical history into secular history, particularly the events concerning Joseph of Arimathea. While there are many learned minds dating from the era of Christ onward who provide the same record, there is a special advantage in quoting a more modem authority with the eminent ecclesiastical background of Cardinal Baronius, who is considered the most outstanding historian of the Roman Catholic Church. He was Curator of the famous Vatican library, a man of learning, and a reliable, facile writer. Quoting from his Ecclesiastical Annals referring to the exodus of the year A.D. 36, the mystery is solved as to the fate of Joseph of Arimathea and others who went into exile with him. He writes: In that year the party mentioned was exposed to the sea in a vessel without sails or oars. The vessel drifted finally to Marseilles and they were saved. From Marseilles Joseph and his company passed into Britain and after preaching the Gospel there, died. No doubt, this event in British history will come as a surprise to many Christians, but there is a mass of corroborative evidence to support this historic passage by many reliable Greek and Roman authorities, including affirmation in the Jewish Encyclopaedia, under 'Arles'. The studious pronouncement made by Cardinal Baronius, derived from delving into the treasured archives of the Vatican at Rome, has proved to be as incontrovertible as it is revealing. To my mind, the Vatican would be the first to repudiate any testimony from their archives to support the priority claim of Christian Britain, if it were untrue. The interesting part of the Baronius report is that the date coincides with that given in the Acts of the Apostles. The expulsion of Joseph and his companions in an oarless boat without sails would be in keeping with the malicious design of the Sanhedrin. They dared not openly destroy him and, instead, conceived an ulterior method hoping their ingenious treachery would eventually consign Joseph and his companions to a watery grave. Little did they realize that, by this subtle act in ridding themselves of the outstanding champion of Christ, their very hope for destruction would be circumvented by an act of providence. Their perfidy made it possible for the forgotten Fathers of Christianity to congregate in a new land where they would be free of molestation. The Saulian Gestapo had failed dismally and for the last time. It began to collapse completely when vengeful Saul, on the road to Damascus, was stricken blind. The incredible happened. Saul heard the voice of Christ speak to him and had his sight restored. He was converted to the faith of 'The Way'. The news stunned the Sanhedrin, infuriating them beyond measure. Immediately, they ordered an all-out drive to seize Saul and kill him on sight, a reversal of circumstances. The hunter was hunted. He went into hiding appealing for aid from Christ's disciples. Their reluctance to save him is understandable. They were filled with suspicion as much as with surprise. Finally they complied, lowering him over the wall of the city with a rope, making his escape in the company of the disciples. From then on he became famous as Paul. The rest is well known. He took up the cross with his great commission as given to him by His Redeemer, Christ, and with all his heart. Finally he gave his all to his Master, in martyrdom, leaving behind an unblemished record which marked him as St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. ..........